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ദൈവത്തിനല്ലാതെ മറ്റാര്‍ക്കും കേരളത്തെ രക്ഷിക്കാന്‍ കഴിയുമെന്ന് തോന്നുന്നില്ല.

അങ്ങേര്‍ക്ക് വേണമെങ്കില്‍ രക്ഷിക്കട്ടെ. അങ്ങേരുടെ സ്വന്തം നാടല്ലേ

Merry Christmas!!

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A few days ago, Gaddam, an REC junior dropped in to my office. He runs a software company in B’lore and was in Chennai on business.

He used to stay in Anand Apartments when Chacko, Puthu and the two Bijus shared a flat there. I was in Anna hostel then, but was a near-permanent fixture at Anand. Yet, when I reconnected with Gaddam on FB, my mind was embarrassingly blank about a lot of things that he excitedly recounted.

But when I saw him, it all came back to me…

At Anand the credo was Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Anandam (that is, Happiness, not the neighbour’s VK). ‘Getting wasted and acting like an idiot’ was the main thing, and soon the news reached our landlord. He landed up to investigate on a sell-bottles-buy-beer Sunday, made some weak joke about the 100 bottles in the living room, informed us that his sister is moving in to Chennai, and asked us to vacate (Call it a coincidence, any house I stay for 6 months, the landlord’s sister would get a transfer to Chennai).

Alumni: TK stayed in Anand during his first month in Chennai and Samy, during his last month (in Chennai, that is).

OK, back to Gaddam. We had a rollicking bull session, which Gaddam, with an acute sense of history, summed up as NON-POLitically Correct.

Many years ago, on Alleppey Express,
Unable to sleep, I stood at the door,
Looking at the stars, humming INXS,
And spied on the top berth, a lovely F24.

Last week I saw Dasvidaniya, the ten-things-to-do-before-I-die movie. At the end of the movie the cast talks about their bucket lists, and amongst the usual see-a-new-place, be-a-better-dad stuff Suchithra Pillai stood out, and I quote, “get together with all of my friends…whom I’ve been in touch with ever since I was a child…one big get-together before I go”. I couldn’t sleep, what an idea, a big bang before I conk, that would be something…I started calling, texting, mailing, scrapping, poking ‘all the girls I knew when I was single’

Do you remember an inn, (deleted),
Beside the sluggish Ouse,
The wide grey sky, and the pigeon-pie,
Two very old canoes
In a corrugated shed
Behind bamboos?
Do you remember the kisses,
The novels left unread,
The moorhens’ cry and the clouds piled high,
The home-made ginger bread?
And the abundant blisses
Of that brass bed?

Most of the replies were on the lines of…

Not the inn, nor the place,
Nor the dance, nor your face,
Nor the fleas. Will you please
Understand that I’m ageing, bourgeois, and am waging
A war to keep up
(On income diminished, I’m socially finished and lonely as hell);
That girl who went prancing and glancing and dancing
Through your fields of wild oats
Was not I.
I’m lined and refined and my husband is kind
But quite cold
A wife who has bedded on straw in the raw he’d abhor.
’Tis a lie, ’twasn’t I;
Ask no more.

The stuff in blue above is not mine (of course!). The verses are from one of my fav books, Peacocks & Commas, Spectator competition’s greatest hits collection, choke full of wit and verbal dexterity. Example: Hamlet summarised in three limericks, Kafka rewritten Wodehouse-style, poems in praise of the lavatory.

Peacocks & Commas was edited by Joanna Lumley. She was big in Britian in the ‘50s – model, actress, TV star, Bond babe. (Recently she was in the news again, celebrating some Gorkha immigration case verdict).

Thanks Joanna.

Credits: Do you remember an inn – Ginger Jeleneck, Not the inn, nor the place – Mrs. MG Lloyd.

We grew up on a rich diet of diverse sounds – Bryan Adams, America, Beatles, Bread, Clapton, CCR, CSNY, Dire Straits, Purple, Doors, Dylan, Eagles, Elvis, Hendrix, Marley, Floyd, Queen, Santana, Simon & Garfunkel, Status Quo, Stones, Rod Stewart. Original cassettes were difficult to obtain and if you wanted to own a piece of music, you had to, um… pirate.

Stop, fast forward…I found a job, bought a lot of cassettes, happy…till the CDs came along. Then I started buying CDs, the usual suspects… Bryan Adams, America, Beatles, Bread, Clapton…there is a very fine line separating hobby and obsessive compulsive behaviour.

Last week I picked up Bob Marley Africa Unite Singles Collection. Started playing it and couldn’t stop grinning…lemme explain.

Many years ago, we were regulars at an LP-to-cassette joint on Broadway. Once, after getting Bob Marley Hits copied, I was noting down the song titles and I noticed the pretty shopgirl intently watching me write. Hmm…good…I wrote ‘Could You be Loved?’ and looked deep into her eyes…she blushed, and I bolted. But for many years after that, I could never walk down Broadway without humming, ‘could you be could you be could you be loved’.

Buffalo Soldier was another special track from the period and a concert staple, and it was Bobby who deciphered the song…

Buffalo Soldier uppu chaak uppu chaak
Dreadlock Rasta uppu chaak uppu chaak
There was a Buffalo Soldier uppu chaak uppu chaak,
in the heart of America uppu chaak uppu chaak

Serious! Listen here. The Sangham singing harmony…uppu chaak uppu chaak, now that is my fav concert memory.

Vaal kashnam: A Pullepady bhai sitting stoned on the rail track lost his legs to a train. Asked if he didn’t see/ hear the train coming, the loco drawled, “No, but loved the Rastaman Vibrations”. BHH.

Appa, I want a slate
I will think about it
2 days later
Please Appa, get me a slate
Let me think about it
3 days later
Appa, if you don’t get me a slate, I am not going to eat dinner
Ok, don’t eat! Now don’t disturb me
Next day morning
I will not eat breakfast, I’ve been asking you for a slate for so many days
Fine
Mother intervenes. Why don’t you tell him you will get him a slate, I don’t want him to starve like this.
Ok son, I will get you a slate
Yippee!!
Next day
Appa, where is my slate?
What slate??

Most movies about writers, journalists, etc. would have at its core a scene in which we see the actor at a keyboard – cue zoom out, pan, montage, music builds up, zoom in, crescendo, close-up – fingers typing THE END, krr, krr, krr, the novel, screenplay, report is ready. Only, nobody tells us what happened between the hyphens.

I for one start with an outline, cut, paste, hew, hack, struggle with it for a couple of days till it takes over my brain, initiates an infinite rewrite loop…till suddenly, like some North Korean stadium display thing, everything fits together and…works.

But today morning was different. While driving to work, playing Dodge ‘Em Cars on Royapettah High, I almost subconsciously started composing a post on, er, driving to work, playing Dodge ‘Em Cars on Royapettah High. The words came ea-si-ly, a little too easily, there was something about the flow, the cadence, that was familiar…as if I was channelling something from the depths of my memory.

Took me an hour to fish out the original…it is from the movie The Perfect Storm, the Clooney – Mastrantonio scene.

The fog’s just lifting.
You throw off your bowline, throw off your stern.
You head out the South Channel…
…past Rocky Neck, Ten Pound Island…
…past Niles Pond, where I skated as a kid.
Blow your horn…
…and wave to the lighthouse keeper’s kid on Thatcher Island.
Then the birds show up.
Black-backs, herring gulls, big dump ducks.
The sun hits you.
Head north, open up to 12.
You’re steaming now.
The guys are busy, you’re in charge.
You know what?
You’re a goddamn swordboat captain.
Is there anything better in the world?

Now, back to my stuff. To use a phrase made famous by mimicry guys, ഇനി ക്ലൂണി ചെന്നൈയില്‍ കാര്‍ ഓടിക്കുകയാണെന്നു വിചാരിക്കുക

The sun is blazing.
You start the car, release the hand-brake,
You head for Royapettah High…
…past Vivekananda College, the roundana…
…past Vijaya Medicals, and almost drive over a kid.
Blow your horn…
…and shake your fist at the shop keeper’s kid.
Then the natives show up.
Black faced…TVS50s, big dump trucks…
An auto hits you.
Head north, open the window…
You’re screaming now.
The cops are busy, nobody is in charge.
You know what? You’re driving in goddamn Chennai.
Is there anything worse in the world?

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